The Cavaliers are officially spooked about the possibility of LeBron James picking up and leaving town a second time, and because of their nightmares of being unprepared for his departure the first time around, they don’t want to have zero young talent to build around if he leaves again.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavaliers are targeting young players in a trade for Kyrie Irving and not necessarily veterans to surround LeBron James with.
“Cleveland is determined to get an elite young player for Irving, which means this: The trade plan the Cavaliers would have prioritized, with James committed for the long term — veterans to surround James and draft picks — isn’t in motion.
The process of building out the franchise’s roster long term has accelerated with Irving’s trade request. The Cavaliers have witnessed James’ exit strategy twice — once to leave Cleveland and once to return — and the Irving trade request has left them unwilling to squander the opportunity to replenish young assets on a roster that could be crippled in a post-James Cavaliers era that is stocked with high-priced veterans.
The Cavaliers find themselves far more fixated on a young star, including New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Phoenix’s Josh Jackson and Denver’s Jamal Murray, league sources told ESPN.”
As we have seen Porzingis and Jackson will be harder to come by (as they should be) if I were the Denver Nuggets I would pick up the phone and deal Jamal Murray right now. If I were the Boston Celtics I would have no issue offering Thomas, Tatum and a salary filler for Irving.
From the Cavaliers perspective, while I can understand the fear and wanting to utilize their young star trade piece to cover themselves if LeBron bolts in free agency, I don’t think they are going about this the right way.
They are one of a select few teams that are good enough to win an NBA title next season and acquiring developing players like Jackson or Murray or Tatum will only help push a soon to be 33-year-old LeBron James in search of title contention and players who can help him to that end, out the door.
Even if he doesn’t commit beyond this season, the best thing a franchise can ever accomplish is winning a championship and they should be doing whatever they can to acquire players for this season who can help attain that goal. Paul George was the ideal piece, but at this point there are two players they can acquire who can help the most: Eric Bledsoe and Carmelo Anthony.
I know Carmelo said he will only go to the Rockets, but if a deal is presented to team up with LeBron James if only for a season to try and win a title, I don’t think he’d pass it up.
At this point if a deal can’t be worked out to acquire veteran stars that fit their roster in 2017-18 around LeBron James, the Cavaliers are better served keeping Irving and hoping he will change his mind about a trade demand next summer if they win another title or LeBron’s departure hands over the keys to the Cavaliers organization to him.